According to BIS Shrapnel, the value of corner shop trade fell from A$754m in 2010 to A$613m last year, and that independent convenience store numbers fell by over 1,400 to 2,725 across the country during the same period.
At the same time, forecourts in Coles and Woolworths car parks increased by almost 300 over to an estimated 3,450—each with food and drink offerings. The number of Woolworths/Caltex supermarket service stations also rose, from 611 to 848.
"The demise of the corner store is a fact," said Sissel Rosengren, BIS Shrapnel’s foodservice head. “We fully expect the decline to continue due mainly to a continuing rise in the number of supermarkets and convenience stores attached to service stations.”
The research also found that traditional corner shop snack preferences have also changed, with the iconic Aussie meat pie making way for chocolates and sweets. Following a prolonged slump in impulse spending as a result of the global financial crisis, confectionery sales at service stations, corner shops and other so-called “route trade” outlets grew by 19% between 2010 and 2012 to A$711m. Chocolate accounted for nearly two-thirds of that spending.
"This is typical consumer behaviour during tougher and uncertain economic times," said Rosengren. "Chocolates can be cheap, and we like to reward ourselves every now and then with a little treat.
"The cost of living and the cost of food in this country has gone up astronomically since 2005. It's a tough retail market out there and that is part of the reason behind the demise of the corner store."
Sausage on a roll
Meat pies still lead in the baked goods category but sales have fallen nine per cent since 2010. Sales have also slipped for ice creams and other snack foods, but sausage rolls and cakes recorded increases of 4% and 14% respectively.
According to some Australian media reports, the pie industry dismissed the BIS figures. In the Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Malak, brand manager for Four'N Twenty pies, said that conflicting research by Aztec showed that more pies were being sold than ever before.
"[Our pies] experienced a 73% increase in the petrol and convenience market in 2012," he told the paper.